Tag Archives: American Bar Association

ABA project aims to help Afghan legal professionals establish themselves in the United States

23/08/22

In the weeks following the one-year anniversary of the fall of Kabul to the Taliban on Aug. 15, the ABA Journal is highlighting the ABA’s efforts to help judges and lawyers from Afghanistan resettle, obtain immigration benefits and secure jobs using their legal skills. This is part one in our series.

In early November, Michael Byowitz attended a virtual program called “Women Judges of Afghanistan: A Call to Action,” and heard the harrowing stories of female judges who fled Afghanistan as the Taliban took over their country.

The program, which was sponsored by the International Law Section’s International Human Rights Committee and featured speakers from the International Association of Women Judges, also described the work of non-governmental organizations to help these judges first find temporary refuge in other countries before resettling in the United States.

“Toward the end of the program, I asked a question, and the question was, ‘What are these people going to do for work when they get resettled? How are they going to make a living?’” says Byowitz, of counsel at Wachtell, Lipton, Rosen & Katz in New York City. “And I specifically asked if there was a route for them to qualify for jobs in the U.S. legal profession, either as lawyers or in other law-related capacities.”

Byowitz, a past ILS chair, had a potential solution in mind. He proposed connecting the Afghan judges with LLM programs—one-year graduate legal studies programs that expose international students to U.S. law systems and legal reasoning. Some states, including California and New York, allow international students who earn an LLM degree to then sit for their bar exams.

He reached out to then-ABA President Reginald Turner and Executive Director Jack Rives, who told him about the ABA Afghanistan Response Project, an initiative a group of entities, members and staff established in August 2021 to assist with the growing humanitarian crisis. Byowitz shared his plan at one of its meetings and got the green light from then-ILS chair Nancy Stafford to work with their colleagues to put it into action.

Byowitz helped launch the Afghan Professionals Resettlement Task Force, which proposed a pilot program to identify a small number of candidates who are interested in obtaining LLM degrees, taking the bar exam and joining the U.S. legal profession. In June, the Board of Governors approved the pilot program, which will focus primarily on female Afghan judges, prosecutors and lawyers.

“Afghan judges, prosecutors and lawyers are highly educated, trained people who have held positions of substantial responsibility,” Byowitz says. “To utilize their skills to the best advantage for them and for the United States, we should have a program like this.”

[…]

https://www.abajournal.com/web/article/aba-project-aims-to-provide-afghan-legal-professionals-with-tuition-and-expenses-for-llm-programs

https://www.law360.com/access-to-justice/articles/1523654/ex-afghan-prosecutor-who-fled-taliban-to-lecture-at-loyola

https://www.kpbs.org/news/local/2022/08/23/many-afghans-in-limbo-year-after-american-evacuation

https://www.cnb.avocat.fr/fr/actualites/chute-de-kaboul-un-apres-que-pouvons-nous-faire (FRANCAIS)

USA: A Chilling Assassination in Wisconsin

05/06/22

Could the killing of a retired judge in Wisconsin signal more attacks to come?

Any individual murder in the United States right now is unlikely to make much of an impression—not when elderly Black people at a grocery store or young children at school are being gunned down in large groups. But the Friday murder of a retired judge in Wisconsin is ominous enough to give some pause.

Although little is known so far, authorities say they believe that the killing was politically motivated. The victim, Jack Roemer, 68, had served on the local circuit court. Police said he was found tied to a chair and shot at his home. (The alleged assassin was found with a self-inflicted wound and hospitalized.) What relationship, if any, the two men had is not clear—“It appears to be related to the judicial system,” Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul said in a news conference—but the suspect also had a list of other potential targets, which news outlets have reported to include Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, a Democrat; Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer, also a Democrat; and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican.

Given McConnell’s presence, that list doesn’t lend itself to straightforward ideological interpretation. More information might shed some light on what agenda, if any, the shooter had that linked all of the targets, or if there were others. Regardless, the incident is chilling for what it might augur. Assassination remains rare in the United States, but in the past it has spiked at times of acute national tension, including following the Civil War, around the turn of the 20th century, and in the ’60s. In a country as divided and angry as the United States is today, it’s surprising that more assassinations haven’t occurred. Perhaps this one is a sign of what’s to come.

[…]

https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2022/06/political-assassination-wisconsin-judge/661192/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/06/04/wisconsin-judge-killed-targeted-roemer-uhde/

https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2022/06/04/wisconsin-judge-killed-targeted-roemer-uhde/

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2022/06/aba-president-statement-re-wisconsin-judge/

UK: How lawyers can help Ukraine

23/05/22

The Law Society has assisted the profession through the upheavals of the last few years by providing, on each occasion, resources for solicitors. It started with Brexit, moved on to the coronavirus pandemic, and now we are at the Russian invasion of Ukraine.

Each development has had multiple consequences for the profession. The repercussions from the invasion of Ukraine are several, and still working themselves out: the retreat of law firms from Russia, the storm over SLAPPs (resulting in last week’s Law Society response to the government’s call for evidence), and the current difficulties over sanctions, both in acting for sanctioned individuals and in the possibility that sanctions on providing services to Russia might be extended to include legal services

A common question from lawyers is what they can individually do to help, to avoid looking on helplessly as Russia trashes areas of Ukraine.

Some may want to give money. The Law Society’s webpage refers readers either to the web-page of the Ukrainian National Bar Association (UNBA), which contains more information, or to major charities running appeals. For those more interested in a benefit in kind, there is a reference to the Homes for Ukraine scheme.

The Ukraine web-page of the Council of Bars and Law Societies of Europe (CCBE) is much more upfront about money. (Most self-respecting bars have Ukraine web-pages these days, usually with an expected statement condemning Russian aggression. The CCBE has even written to the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court (ICC) offering to assist him with his investigation – see more on the investigation below.)

Regarding money, the CCBE says:

‘The Ukrainian National Bar Association has made a call for donations to support the Ukrainian lawyers and their families. The aid will be distributed by the Charity Foundation of the National Bar Association of Ukraine (100% owned by the National Bar Association of Ukraine) to those lawyers who need it the most, including those who have lost their homes, been injured, have no means of subsistence. A Board of Trustees will prepare and publish a report on the use of these funds.’

[…]

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/commentary-and-opinion/how-lawyers-can-help-ukraine/5112582.article

https://www.lawsociety.ie/gazette/top-stories/2022/ukraine-looks-at-ways-of-excluding-russia-from-un

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2022/05/as-war-rages-in-ukraine-lawyers-consider-genocide-laws/

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-61564440

https://unba.org.ua/mizhnarodna-dopomoga-dlya-naau

https://unba.org.ua/news/7434-unba-reports-on-international-charitable-assistance.html

https://en.unba.org.ua/

https://uba.ua/eng/

https://www.ohchr.org/en/press-releases/2022/05/human-rights-council-adopts-resolution-deteriorating-human-rights-situation

Refugee lawyer describes harrowing invasion of Ukraine

14/04/22

A Ukrainian lawyer described the harrowing scenes she witnessed after the Russian invasion, telling an ABA panel on April 7 that she was forced to flee her country with her three young children and leave behind her husband.

Alesya Pavlynska, an employment lawyer at the Ukrainian firm Arzinger Law, described her shock as the first missiles shook Kyiv in the early hours of Feb. 24.

Her husband, Vitalii Shestak, told her and their three kids—Maria, Ivan and Oles—that they would need to take shelter. Pavlynska showed the panel a picture of her children bundled up in a frigid cellar and huddled around their phones.

“It seemed to be unreal and not possible in the modern world—in modern Europe,” Pavlynska said of the moment it dawned on her the invasion was happening.

More than 4.6 million Ukrainians have fled into Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, Moldava and Romania. The ABA convened the webinar, “Ukraine’s Refugee Crisis: The Faces of War,” to discuss the ongoing crisis and how its members can help.

[…]

ABA President Reginald M. Turner Jr. echoed Pavlynska’s message about the rule of law in remarks prerecorded for the webinar audience, saying the war and crisis had to be viewed through the lens of the “fundamental premise to advance liberty and justice for all.”

“Lawyers believe not in the rule of force, but in the rule of law. We believe that human rights are the bedrock of life and liberty. Our stake in the rule of law compels us to denounce the Russian invasion and rededicate our support of international institutions that promote peace and security,” Turner said.

Advocates urge fast action

Speaking from London, Ukrainian Bar Association President Anna Ogrenchuk said she wants the international community to form a special tribunal to investigate war crimes after documented atrocities in Bucha. Ogrenchuk says it’s likely war crimes have been committed in other parts of the country where the Russian military is present. She urged the American legal community to use its clout to support the tribunal and gather evidence.

“We need your expertise. We need your help in investigating and documenting all war crimes —when the crimes are still been committed,” Ogrenchuk said.

More should also be done to cripple the Russian economy, she added. The UBA has released several open letters, including ones to international companies and businesses operating in Russia and international law firms, legal associations and regulators.

“Every day of war costs Russia about $20 billion, and this money comes from companies who pay taxes in Russia,” Ogrenchuk said. “A full economic embargo is the only alternative to a very long and damaging war in Ukraine.”

There are approximately 60,000 attorneys in Ukraine, and about half of them are women, Ogrenchuk added. She said her bar association estimates that two-thirds of female lawyers have left the country, but women are currently doing the bulk of legal work because many male lawyers have enlisted in the military.

[…]

https://www.abajournal.com/web/article/at-aba-panel-refugee-lawyer-describes-harrowing-invasion-of-ukraine

WEBINAR – Lawyers assist Ukraine – 20 April 2022 at 9.30 CET

https://www.cbsnews.com/video/ukrainian-human-rights-lawyer-on-what-constitutes-genocide/

https://www.facebook.com/UkrainianNationalBarAssociation

Lawyers’ Day in Turkey: Hundreds of lawyers in jail

05/04/22

“We refuse to accept the 5th of April as a day for celebrations while hundreds of our colleagues are jailed over their professional activities,’ an official spokesperson of a lawyers’ association says on ‘Lawyers’ Day’ in Turkey.

Representatives of lawyers’ associations read out statements in Istanbul on Tuesday on the occasion of Lawyers’ Day in Turkey, stating that the 5 April cannot be a day of celebration while so many lawyers are incarcerated solely over their professional activities.

According to a report released in December 2021 by the Arrested Lawyers Initiative, more than 1,600 lawyers were detained and prosecuted while 615 lawyers were under pre-trial arrest in Turkey since 2016. Subsequently, 474 lawyers were sentenced to a total prison term of 2,966 years in prison on the grounds of membership of an armed terrorist organisation, or of spreading terrorist propaganda.

Esra Erin, the co-chair of Free Lawyers’ Association’s Istanbul branch said:

“Hundreds of our colleagues are in jail solely due to their professional activities. We refuse to accept the 5th of April as a day for celebration while our imprisoned colleagues are not free and among us. We have been visiting them in prison. Through their determination to stand against injustices and to carry on with their work even in their prison cells, they have reminded us yet again that a lawyer does not perform only in the courthouse, and that this is a profession to be performed practically anywhere as a rights struggle.”

She continued:

“A lawyer’s title is not just something that we lawyers can be stripped of. We carry on the struggle of Fuat Erdoğan, Faik Candan, Şefik Epözdemir and Medet Serhat who were killed in the 1990s, of Tahir Elçi who was killed in 2015, of Ebru Timtik who went on hunger strike for the right to fair trial on 5 April 2020 and who lost her life on 27 August 2020.”

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2022/04/aba-presidential-statement-re-lawyers-day-in-turkey/

https://bizimtv.com.tr/guncel/avukatlar-avukatlar-gununde-istanbul-adliyesinde-bulustu-yuzlerce-meslektasimiz-ha-78503h (TURKCE)

https://t24.com.tr/haber/istanbul-barosu-5-nisan-avukatlar-gunu-nu-yargi-krizi-ile-karsilasiyoruz,1025757

(FRANCAIS)

Belarus authorities may disbar another lawyer defending political prisoner

14/10/21

The Belarusian Justice Ministry has launched a disciplinary investigation against the well-known lawyer Natallya Matskevich.

She was suspended from work, Alyaksandr Dzyadok, the father of political prisoner Mikalai Dzyadoktold Radio Svaboda.

Until now, Natallya Matskevich, a member of Minsk City Bar Сouncil, has been a defence lawyer of Mikalai Dzyadok who reported his being tortured by police. She was also involved in political trials, defending Lukashenka’s opponents and might-have-been presidential candidates Viktar Babaryka and Syarhei Tsikhanouski.

According to Alyaksandr Dzyadok, taking such steps is nothing but deliberately depriving people of their right to protection.

“The question of revoking her [Matskevich’s] license is looming. As a result, my son has a legal disaster – it is the second time that he has been left without protection during the judicial investigation: earlier, they stripped [lawyer] Yauhen Maslau of his license, now Natallya Matskevich is facing the same threat. A week ago, she was still allowed to visit the son in the pre-trial detention centre on Valadarski Street; she was about to see him yesterday [on Tuesday], but we have come across the problem,” the man said.

As reported earlier, since the beginning of post-election protests in 2020, the Justice Ministry’s Qualification Commission have terminated the licenses of many Belarusian lawyers who were involved in defending citizens prosecuted on political grounds. Over the past months, political prisoner Maryia Kalesnikava’s defence lawyers Alyaksandr Pylchanka and Lyudmila Kazak have been disbarred. In addition, the Belarusian authorities forced out of the profession Kanstantsin Mikhel, Mikhail Kirilyuk, Maksim Konan, Uladzimir Sazanchuk (the latter defends politician Mikalai Statkevich, blogger Zmitser Kazlou and was one of Katsyaryna Andreyeva’s lawyers), Anton HashynskiSyarhei Zikratski. The Belarusian State University (BSU) decided not to re-sign the employment contract with Alena Layeuskaya, a civil law teacher at the Faculty of Law and mother of Babaryka’s lawyer Dzmitry Layeuski.

Belarus authorities may disbar another lawyer defending political prisoner

https://charter97.org/en/news/2021/10/13/440389/

https://abaruleoflaw.blogspot.com/2021/05/the-critical-role-of-belarusian-lawyers.html

https://ej.by/news/sociaty/2021/10/13/teper-natalya-matskevich-esche-odnogo-advokata-sobirayutsya-lishit.html (BELARUSIAN)

https://belsat.eu/news/13-10-2021-yashche-adnago-advakata-pa-palitychnyh-spravah-adhilili-ad-pratsy/

USA: Statement of ABA President Reginald Turner Re: Afghanistan

16/08/21

The American Bar Association is deeply saddened and concerned about the demise of the rule of law in Afghanistan as the Taliban takes control of the Afghan government and society.

We call on the United States and the rest of the international community to ensure the safety of the many people within Afghanistan who have worked tirelessly over the past 20 years to establish democracy and respect for the rule of law and human rights, including the judges, lawyers and law students who share our profession.

The ABA and all those committed to the rule of law condemn recent events that threaten the lives and liberty of millions of Afghanis.

The ABA is the largest voluntary association of lawyers in the world. As the national voice of the legal profession, the ABA works to improve the administration of justice, promotes programs that assist lawyers and judges in their work, accredits law schools, provides continuing legal education, and works to build public understanding around the world of the importance of the rule of law.

[…]

https://www.americanbar.org/news/abanews/aba-news-archives/2021/08/aba-president-statement-re-afghanistan/

https://www.lawgazette.co.uk/news/save-our-afghan-colleagues-urges-united-profession/5109538.article

https://www.jurist.org/news/2021/08/afghanistan-dispatches-i-personally-think-law-major-is-no-more-a-field-of-study-for-students-particularly-women/

https://www.avocatparis.org/afghanistan-le-barreau-de-paris-appelle-levacuation-des-civils-risque-pour-garantir-leur-protection (FRANCAIS)

Burma: Mandalay University law student sentenced to 3 years in jail

13/07/21

Image

https://www.myanmar-now.org/en/news/father-says-he-is-worried-about-health-of-detained-daughter

https://www.rfa.org/english/news/myanmar/stress-07082021183938.html

https://abaruleoflaw.blogspot.com/2021/07/aba-president-patricia-refo-released.html

Pakistan: Lawyer wants to leave Pakistan after winning couple’s freedom

05/06/21

Lawyer wants to leave Pakistan after winning couple's freedom

‘I can’t survive anymore in my country,’ says Saiful Malook after the acquittal of a Christian couple on death row for blasphemy

A Pakistani lawyer who is globally recognized for defending the country’s beleaguered religious minorities in blasphemy cases has made an emphatic appeal to the international community to help him relocate to an English-speaking country.

“My message for the world. I can’t survive anymore in my country. I want to shift to some English-speaking country,” Saiful Malook tweeted late on June 3.

His tweet came hours after he had won the acquittal of Christian couple Shagufta Kausar and her husband Shafqat Emmaneul, who had been sentenced to death in 2014 on charges of sending blasphemous message from a mobile phone.

The lawyer was awarded the National Secular Society’s annual prize at its Secularism 2019 conference on May 29. The award was presented by the human rights barrister and NSS honorary associate Geoffrey Robertson QC.

In 2020, Malook was nominated by the International Observatory for Lawyers in Danger (OIAD) for the prestigious American Bar Association human rights award.

The OIAD is an institution of solidarity among lawyers whose goal is to provide judicial and material support. This project, co-financed by the European Union, was signed by the Italian National Bar Association, Conseil National des Barreaux, Spanish National Bar Association, and the Rome, Paris and Madrid Bars on April 22, 2016.

The purpose of the OIAD is to defend lawyers under threat and denounce situations in which the right to defense is put at risk. It will also track, through monitoring and all other available means, lawyers who are victim of threats, pressure, torture or any other kind of abuse.

Malook was also nominated for the Roosevelt Four Freedoms Award for his courage. He received a prestigious award from Britain’s National Secular Society in London.

https://www.ucanews.com/news/lawyer-wants-to-leave-pakistan-after-winning-couples-freedom/92741#

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2021/june/pakistan-christians-blasphemy-asia-bibi-shafqat-shaguftah.html

https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/6/4/pakistan-court-acquits-christian-couple-of-blasphemy-charges

https://www1.cbn.com/cbnnews/cwn/2021/june/christian-couple-convicted-of-blasphemy-finally-gets-justice-after-pakistani-judge-acquits-case-nearly-8-years-later

Belarus: stop politically motivated prosecution and disbarment of lawyers

13/04/21

International Commission of Jurists (ICJ) | Page 2 | Prachatai English

Today, the ICJ called on the Belarus Ministry of Justice and other relevant authorities to end the recent practice of using legal proceedings against lawyers in retaliation for discharging their professional duties and to reinstate those already disbarred.

In recent months, in the context of widespread violations of the human rights of those protesting against the outcome of the disputed 2020 presidential election, there has been an unprecedented increase of cases of disbarment of lawyers especially those who comment on violations of the human rights of their clients. Among the most recently disbarred lawyers are Konstantin Mikhel, Maxim Konon, Mikhail Kirilyuk and Yulia Ivanchuk.

“This recent wave of criminal and disciplinary proceedings against lawyers is highly worrying and it constitutes an attack on the independence of the legal profession. These proceedings, be they of criminal, administrative or disciplinary nature, should be discontinued or reconsidered as being contrary to the international human rights law concerning the independence of the legal profession,” said Temur Shakirov, Senior Legal Adviser of the ICJ Europe and Central Asia Programme.

There is a clear pattern of the misuse of disciplinary proceedings against lawyers who represent political opponents of the government or those who openly criticize the government on issues of public significance.

Disciplinary proceedings in Belarus are not independent of the executive, since they are conducted by the Qualification Commission which operates under the Ministry of Justice.

Notably, disciplinary proceedings are pending against lawyer Dmitry Layevski, allegedly following his public comments on a pending Draft Law on advocates’ activities.

Dmitry Layevski is a lawyer representing Victor Babaryko, an opposition leader in Belarus currently in detention, and Maxim Znak, former legal representative of Maria Kolesnikova, another detained opposition leader.

Earlier, a number of lawyers, including Aleksandr Pylchenko, former legal representative of Viktor Babaryko and Maria Kolesnikova, and Lyudmila Kazak, former legal representative of Maria Kolesnikova, faced disciplinary sanctions, and Lyudmila Kazak incurred an administrative fine, as a result of discharging their professional functions.

Several lawyers involved in human rights cases have been called by the Qualification Commission to undergo an examination to re-certify their qualification to practice law and have failed the exam. This procedure appears to target lawyers working to defend human rights, as a means of harassment or reprisal.

[…]

https://www.ibanet.org/Article/NewDetail.aspx?ArticleUid=09fa9c9f-1e27-4e55-983c-3f4e112a569f

https://www.belhelcom.org/en/news/communication-un-special-rapporteurs-defense-belarussian-lawyers-2021

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maxim_Znak

https://ex-press.by/rubrics/obshhestvo/2021/02/15/nekorrektno-vyrazhalsya-o-predstavitelyax-gosorganov-advokata-mixaila-kirilyuka-xotyat-lishit-licenzii (BELARUSIAN)